Jaundice in Newborns: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention | Health

Jaundice is a medical condition in which the skin, whites of the eyes and mucous membranes turn yellow due to the high level of bulirubin – a yellow-orange bile pigment present in the body. Newborn babies are often detected having jaundice. However, it is extremely common. Most newborns, after birth, have jaundice within the first two weeks. Speaking to HT Lifestyle, Dr. Sai Kiran, MD, DrNB, Consultant Neonatologist at the Fernandez Foundation noted the causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention of jaundice in newborns.

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Cause :

“The most common reason for newborn jaundice is increased red blood cell (RBC) mass which leads to excessive production of bilirubin (the pigment causing jaundice). This pigment takes some time to disappear due to an immature liver.The pigment then deposits in the skin and eyes resulting in a yellow discoloration in babies.If a mother has an Rh negative blood type, sensitized with an Rh positive baby born earlier, or if the mother and baby both have different blood types, the risks of newborn jaundice are Jaundice is also more common in premature babies, low birth weight babies or babies who have lost a lot of weight” , said Dr. Sai Kiran. He added that although jaundice in newborns is not taken into account, the levels of bilirubin in the blood should be constantly monitored.


Monitoring is the key to detecting jaundice in newborns. In most cases, a physical exam including a bilirubin meter and blood test is ordered. Jaundice usually appears 3 to 7 days after birth – therefore, after discharge, a follow-up consultation with the pediatrician is recommended in order to ensure that the baby has jaundice.


“If during newborn screening for jaundice and levels of jaundice in the blood exceed a certain threshold on an age-specific nomogram, treatment is initiated. Phototherapy, which involves exposing the baby to blue light, is used as a treatment,” the doctor said. In phototherapy, light helps convert the jaundice pigment in the skin and blood into an easily excreted form, which also helps reduce levels of jaundice.


Breastfeeding is recommended by the doctor as a method of preventing jaundice in newborn babies. “Mothers should continue to breastfeed and consult a lactation consultant if they are having trouble latching on or finding the right position to feed their baby. The mother does not need to practice any dietary restrictions,” said the Dr Sai Kiran.

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